Pastor Violet Little and her Welcome Church, a church without walls that ministers to the homeless in center city Philadelphia and beyond, came to us this spring with a request to assist with funding for shelter for a group of 12 women. The Welcome Church had found a location, but with no budget to make the place suitable for the women, Pastor Violet had a dilemma. Through DVFP’s Small Nonprofit Assistance Program, we were able to provide just enough financial support for The Welcome Church to open “The Well,” which is now ‘home’ to the otherwise unsheltered women. As a volunteer wrote: “In the basement of a small Episcopal church on a side street, two of the women of The Well looked up. . . other women arrived. They put down their carts or bags after a long day on the streets, free for a while from the burdens of homelessness. . . “home” didn’t open until 7:30 pm, and would send them back to the streets 12 hours later.. . the dingy basement hall was truly a place of hope.” Congratulations to Pastor V, to the Welcome Church and its volunteers, and most especially to the women at The Well.
Simple needs are sometimes difficult to meet – especially if you are among the less fortunate. Old St. Joseph’s Church has for years been meeting some of the simple needs of men who are experiencing homelessness or teetering on the edge of homelessness. Three days a week, the church’s outreach program provides a 3-course meal to some 60 men who come together as a community to share friendship with each other.
The Old St. Joseph’s program – Faith, Food & Friends – does not proselytize; it simply welcomes those who come. Most of the men are regulars and so know each other, Mary Freedman who coordinates the program, and the volunteers (many of whom have been coming to cook a meal and serve the men weekly for several years).
Old St. Joseph’s offers the men more than community and a meal. It fills some needs that men on the street or near it have: a place to get their mail; a few hygiene supplies; a pair of socks when they are available. One need Old St.Joseph’s was struggling to meet was for backpacks to replace the plastic grocery bags the men use to protect their clothes and documents. Mary contacted DVFP a few months ago, told us about the problem, and submitted an application for assistance in getting the backpacks. It was a quick decision. Today, with the assistance from DVFP. Mary and the outreach program are replacing the plastic grocery bags with secure backpacks, making life “a little better” for that community. Great that Mary saw the need and did something about it!
Yorkship Family School in the Fairview section of Camden is our New Jersey Founding Partner School. Thanks to efforts of DVFP’s good friends, Laura and Jose Sanchez, DVFP was introduced to Yorkship and able to connect with Sue Bowen, who teaches 4th grade at the school. Sue in turn introduced DVFP to Tracey Reed-Thompson, the Principal, and Tia McIntosh, Yorkship’s Lead Teacher, both of whom enthusiastically agreed to have Yorkship collaborate with DVFP in our Educator Assistance Pilot Program.
Yorkship teachers and staff submitted thirteen applications for assistance to DVFP just before Easter. Nine days after Easter, DVFP’s president, Ed Riehl, presented fulfillment awards in varying degrees for all thirteen projects. As we found at Mitchell Elementary School in Philadelphia, so too at Yorkship were the teacher requests both creative and varied. With support from DVFP, Yorkship will undertake a school-wide quilting project to build community; plant a sustainable vegetable garden; acquire a K-8th Grade guided-reading library; and outfit 20 middle-school students with track and field suits. In addition, thirty-four middle-schoolers will soon be wearing DVFP-provided Fit Bits and, with associated workbook assignments, developing wellness and healthy lifestyle behaviors.
Congratulations to our Camden pilot project partner school, Ms. Reed-Thompson and Ms. McIntosh, and
Yorkship’s teachers: Karen Rojas, Eileen Anderson, Linda Brown-Bartlett, Sue Bowen, Nancy DiBattista, Courtney Gray, Helena Savage, Patrica Sheehan and Joe Williams. You’re doing good things for the youth of Camden!